Understanding Loss of Consortium in Florida
Serious accidents can cause more than just physical damage. The emotional harm can be just as impactful and long-lasting and may support a claim for loss of consortium.
What Is Loss of Consortium in Florida?
When a victim is injured or dies as a result of the negligent actions of another person, they or their loved ones are generally able to bring a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the negligent party. Depending on the severity of the injury, the outcome can affect more than just the victim.
Understanding loss of consortium in Florida is important to determine your options. Loss of companionship is another common term for loss of consortium.
Loss of consortium in Florida is generally defined as loss of companionship and fellowship. This includes the right of each to the company, cooperation, and aid of the other in every conjugal way.
How Do I Prove Loss of Consortium?
Not every personal injury or wrongful death case will include a claim for loss of consortium. In most cases, a loss of consortium claim involves death or serious injuries that prevent the victim from functioning like a normal, healthy person.
This could include brain damage, paralysis, incontinence, or a variety of other issues that require a significant level of care and assistance for the victim to maintain their quality of life.
The injury must be severe and long-lasting. Here are some of the facts that must be true for you to receive compensation for loss of consortium:
- If filing a claim as a spouse, the victim and plaintiff must have been married at the time of the accident;
- The defendant must have intentionally or negligently caused the injury of the victim;
- The defendant’s conduct must have caused the serious harm;
- The personal injury or wrongful death claim against the defendant must be valid; and
- The plaintiff must prove the actual loss of consortium due to the victim’s injury.
A loss of consortium claim is directly tied to the personal injury claim. If there is not a valid claim for personal injury or wrongful death, meaning no negligence on the part of the defendant, there cannot be a claim for loss of consortium.
You must file the personal injury claim first in civil court. The loss of consortium is a separate claim, but cannot be filed first. It is helpful to have an experienced Florida personal injury attorney to guide you through this process.
Can I Bring a Claim for Loss of Consortium in Florida?
Most loss of consortium claims are filed by spouses. A claim could also be brought by the children, parents, or other dependents of the victim. The age of the victim or their children may be a factor. There are three types of loss of consortium claims.
Spouse’s Loss of Consortium
A spouse has a claim only if they were married to the victim. A lot of other factors regarding the health of the relationship can also be considered in a spouse’s claim. The victim and spouse must have been married before the accident occurred.
Loss of Parental Consortium
According to Florida Statute 768.0415, “A person who, through negligence, causes significant permanent injury to the natural or adoptive parent of an unmarried dependent resulting in a permanent total disability shall be liable to the dependent for damages, including damages for permanent loss of services, comfort, companionship, and society.”
Severe injury to the parent of a minor child could pose a special set of difficulties. A child forced to grow up without the care of a parent or to act as a caregiver has experienced loss. Losing a parent is a life-altering occurrence.
Parental Loss of Filial Consortium
A claim filed by a parent is referred to as “loss of filial consortium” and applies if the victim was a minor. The loss or severe injury of a child is a tragedy no parent wants to experience.
Potential Compensation for Loss of Consortium in Florida
It is hard to put a dollar amount on the suffering that comes from severe injury or loss of a loved one. No monetary compensation will ever be enough to replace what was taken away from you.
Compensation achieved through a valid claim for loss of consortium does not include damages associated with the actual injury. This compensation is for non-economic harm and may include various types of loss including:
- Help raising minor children,
- Help with household chores,
- Financial assistance,
- General companionship,
- Sexual relationship between spouses, and
- Emotional support.
These are hardships that may occur because of the injury. Though money cannot make up for the loss of a partner or family member, the monetary recovery may allow a surviving single parent to hire help with childcare or household chores. It could also help with therapy or just coping with new burdens that may arise.
What Do I Need to Know About Filing a Claim?
If you choose to file a claim for loss of consortium in Florida, it is important to understand that your relationship with the victim will be placed under a microscope.
Intimate aspects of your relationship will be questioned and scrutinized. This could be especially difficult if your marriage included any infidelity, separation, abuse, or criminal charges. Length of the relationship and life expectancies may also be factors.
Hard times do not mean that a valid claim for loss of consortium does not exist, but building a solid case will be easier with the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Should I Hire an Attorney for My Loss of Consortium Case?
Navigating the court system alone can be a daunting task. Combine that with a lack of emotional support from your injured spouse or loved one, and it becomes even more difficult.
A personal injury attorney who has experience with loss of consortium cases will be able to help you in a number of important areas including:
- Determining the strength of your case;
- Filing important paperwork;
- Understanding your options for relief;
- Preparing you for invasive questioning:
- Providing representation in court; and
- Negotiating with insurance companies.
At Abramson and Uiterwyk, we understand how hard it can be to go through a loss of consortium. It is something no one should have to face.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys are committed to advocating for you and your family. Contact us today, and find out how we can help you seek the compensation you deserve.